At precisely 9pm on a dreich Wednesday night I raised a glass. Old Pulteney, 12yo, large one – honey, with cream; salty with spicy note. And at the same time across the land and beyond a thousand other glasses and more were raised. One thousand silent toasts rang out, one thousand nods to the same place. Bath. For that is where he resides. Which means a vote on 18 September is not his to cast, not yet anyway.
On that day many more than a thousand drams will rise. And many glances will again be cast in the direction of Bath. For one man has raised an army, and brought together a rag-tag mob, the cyber-warriors as the Daily Mail may cast them, detested. And I sit here type-cast, late at night, hammering at the keyboard, another dram at the side.
But it is a night of celebration, and the toast is Reverend Stuart Campbell, Wings Over Scotland.
Earlier in the day, at ten of the clock, he launched his appeal. Twelve months previously he did the same, pledging to work for the cause full time, but needing funding for a year. Over the month of the appeal more than £33,000 was raised, and Stu’s services secured. Since then he has carved a place in the history that is being made.
In a recent Scotpulse poll it was confirmed that the internet is the place to go for referendum information, and that Wings was the one. The site stats are nothing short of astonishing. I’ll not bore you with the numbers, but I am not alone. Nearly a quarter of a million unique visitors last month alone.
So when he launched this year’s appeal many of us were primed and waiting. But his plans are ambitious; more polling, more hours, more for other contributorss. And a Wee Blue Book, a print version of all that we look to Wings to provide. But it would cost, £53,000 in total, his own services at minimum wage rates, everything costed. He gave us until 31 March.
And as I raised my glass at the appointed hour, with a thousand others, we watched as the donations meter ticked round, heading for an astonishing £75,000, in less than 12 hours. Through the day funds came in at more than £100 per minute. Wee things, as they say, a pound or two here, a tenner there. There’s a crowd-funding facility, with Indiegogo, and beyond that a separate donate facility.
Some of us chipped in with some of the money we no longer spend on newsprint; some paid for the year’s papers. A whopping single donation of ten grand, wow, off site so to speak, not part of the Indiegogo fund; a sign of what it means; a sign of how we value our man in Bath.
So as glasses are charged once again, and we look ahead to that date in September ringed in the calendar, the only thing left to say is Thank You Stu, and Keep Up The Fantastic Work. Scotland Needs You.
Ironic isn’t it, that this positive sign, this faith in the fight for our future, comes on the same day the regional newspaper circulation figures are announced. More double-digit plummeting for the quality press that once featured in the monthly figures, as nationals, the demise now revealed only twice a year. The printed media is dying, and Wings readers know why. And it just goes to show that if you give us what we want to read, the truth, then we’ll gladly pay. Wonder if the print boys will take note?
Links as always on the sidebar, but here’s another, straight to the crowd-funder, for those of you with any of those spare bawbees we’ll be using in the years ahead. Sterling work, as someone said.